To estimate the effects of intramuscular meperidine analgesia on fetal heart rate (FHR) patterns compared with placebo. In a prospective randomized study, 150 healthy women with singleton term pregnancy requesting analgesia during active labor were planned to receive either intramuscular meperidin 50 mg (meperidin group) or normal saline (control group) when they requested analgesia. Fetal heart rate patterns occurring within 40 minutes of initiation of labor analgesia were retrospectively read by maternal fetal medicine specialist who was blind to type of labor analgesia. Meperidine, compared with placebo, was associated with statistically significantly less beat to beat variability (absent or less than 5 beats per minute) (28% versus 5% of fetuses, P<0.05), lower proportion of accelerations (37.3% versus 17.3% P<0.05) and of the FHR. Also FHR deceleration was significantly more than control group (25.5% versus 4%, P<0.05). Meperidine has deleterious effects on FHR.